“And I knew it was bad when I woke up in the mornings and the only thing I looked forward to was going back to bed.” Anonymous
Depression is different from normal sadness and is more than having the “blues.” Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in everything. Depression affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
Depression is feeling helpless and hopeless, not wanting to eat anything or wanting to eat everything. Depression is feeling angry and short tempered, irritable and agitated. Depression is loss of energy, self-loathing thoughts and possibly the increase in reckless behavior. Depression is having difficulty with concentrating and remembering things. It is unexplained aches and pains and often leads to suicidal thoughts or actions. Depression is wanting to sleep and having insomnia or sleeping so much you miss important things. Depression is tiring and leaves you with no energy. Depression is isolating and could stop you from communicating.
Depression is not one symptom, it is many, working together to cause emotional distress.
Depression is a word that may not always be understood or looked upon with kindness and understanding. Depression is not something you can cause to go away through willpower, praying more than you already do, or doing all the “right” things.
The causes of depression vary. Some of the causes include, situations of ongoing distress, like loneliness, lack of social support, recent stressful life experiences, relationship problems, financial strain, health problems and chronic pain. Depression also can be caused from genetics (a family history of depression), trauma and abuse, alcohol or drug use, and imbalances or hormones in the body.
Regardless of the cause of depression the symptoms and impact on a person’s life from depression is the same.
Depression has been looked at in society as something easily cured if only you tried. This is not true. Many of you may have heard others make statements about depression that sound like this: You are just having a bad day. You just need to find joy. You just need to be more positive. You just need to get over it. Just snap out of it. You are being lazy. It is all in your head. You just want attention. Depression means you are weak. These statements are not true and show a lack of understanding about what depression really is.
Because of the statements and beliefs of our culture many people never talk about the struggle they are having within themselves and ultimately may never heal wounds or have the happiness they could have and deserve.
Depression is real and it hurts.
For anyone that recognizes themselves in the symptoms above, there is hope. Depression can be treated. Just as the symptoms and causes of depression are different in different people, so are the ways to feel better. What works for one person might not work for another, and no one treatment is appropriate in all cases. In most cases, the best approach involves a combination of social support, lifestyle changes, emotional skills building, and professional help.
More specifically, here are some examples of methods of helping to cope with depression:
- Get a thorough physical exam with your health practitioner including blood work that checks thyroid and vitamins
- Educate yourself as much as possible on what depression is and how it affects the body as well as coping techniques
- Address lifestyle changes that may include: setting and keeping a regular sleep schedule, removing alcohol and drugs, follow a consistent exercise program, attempt to minimize stress in areas that you are able, set boundaries in relationships that are problematic, work to have positive messages coming in, build support and ask support for assistance when needed, stay active with hobbies, activities and socially
- Seek counseling where cognitive behavioral techniques can be learned and applied, where you will have a safe environment to discuss the emotions and thoughts bothering you, as well as processing trauma.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, please reach out for assistance through counseling. It does take courage to take this step but taking the step towards helping yourself will be one that is worthwhile.